A new executive order from Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf in part calls for state agencies to find ways to transition older adults from nursing homes to home- and community-based settings. Such settings can include assisted living communities and personal care homes.
The six-page “Protection of Vulnerable Populations” order “is the beginning of a process to acknowledge Pennsylvania, over the past few decades, has failed to maintain our systems to protect and help our most vulnerable residents, and that must change,” the governor said. “We’ve heard and seen the horror stories. Many stem from a government too eager to serve the needs of institutions and too reluctant to serve the needs of people.”
LeadingAge PA said it supports Wolf’s plans.
“LeadingAge PA will always support efforts to improve the care and quality of life of Pennsylvania’s seniors and look forward to working with the administration together on this,” LeadingAge PA President and CEO Adam Marles said. “For some of our frail elderly, nursing facilities remain the best and most compassionate choice for care. For others, we believe it important to help them receive care in the least restrictive settings, including their homes.”
The executive order also establishes an Office of Advocacy and Reform that integrates the Long-term Care Ombudsman, and it establishes a 25-member Council on Reform to support the efforts. Both the office and council will work to identify needed reforms for state services used by “vulnerable populations,” including children.
The council held its first meeting immediately following the July 31 announcement and is supposed to issue a report to the governor by Nov. 1.
Among other things, Wolf said he also is asking state agencies to find ways to improve the handling of abuse allegations and regulatory violations by licensing providers; to commission a study on the effect that financial exploitation of older adults has on the state; and to establish sustainable housing and long-term services and supports for those who leave the corrections system with nursing facility-level care needs.
The governor said he also will pursue “extensive regulatory and legislative actions.”